According to recent Census Bureau data, the US national centenarian population has grown a whopping 65.8% over the past three decades: from 32,194 people aged 100 and older in 1980 to 53,364 in 2010.
So what’s their secret to such long lives? We have to give some credit for our lengthening lifespans to medical and technological advances, of course. And perhaps the people who live the longest lives simply have a genetic advantage. But here are some things centenarians all have in common:
First, most centenarians are female. In fact, over 80% of people over 100 are women. Part of the reason for this gender trait could be that women have been proven to be more social overall than men. But don’t despair, guys. This brings us to our next point.
Company. Studies have repeatedly shown that staying socially connected boosts health and prolongs life. In fact, the majority of the nation’s oldest citizens live with others. Staying connected with friends and family, joining social clubs, and living in an environment where you’re more likely to encounter others could be the greatest recipe for longevity.
Exercising regularly. There’s no way around it- taking good care of your body is the best way to prolong its shelf life. Many centenarians have reported regular exercise throughout their lives. Not only does a healthy lifestyle boost longevity, it can also prevent the onset of dementia.
Not smoking. Regular or substantial smoking is rare among centenarians. But the good news is, the sooner you quit smoking, the sooner your body will recover. Our bodies are amazing machines; it’s never too late to enjoy the benefits of kicking the habit.
Living in New England or the Midwest. The Northeast and Midwest have proportions of centenarians that are higher than the national average. For whatever reason, the West and South just can’t compete. This difference could be attributed to anything from culture and smoking habits to access to medical care.
Of course, there are always exceptions. Some centenarians claim they’ve never exercised a day in their lives. Some even contribute their longevity to bacon or nightly cocktails. Sure, there are things we can do to be proactive about making sure we live long and healthy lives. But for now, the secret to longevity remains a secret.